When we step into a sexual scenario – whether it be with a long-term lover, a new romantic interest, or a casual rendezvous – we bring so much more than just our physical bodies and sexual skills.
We also bring our sexual anticipations and expectations, our fantasies, our fears and hang-ups, our mental health, our rules and restrictions, and our past experiences. We bring our whole self and our whole sexual belief system.
What do you bring to bed?
You are never a blank sexual canvass. You are a complex map of memories, ideas, feelings, thoughts and desires.
Some of the things we bring to bed are probably helpful and fun – for example, a pleasurable fantasy, a sense of self worth, reasonable expectations, playfulness, responsiveness or a relaxed state of mind.
And some of the things we bring to bed are probably a bit unhelpful or distracting – for example, performance anxiety, feelings of obligation, yucky memories from the past, or fears around inadequacy.
And we could argue about how much of this internal landscape is actually in our control, and how much of this could be changed or transformed with self-insight, education, therapy, mental effort and perseverance.
But despite what can be changed and what can’t, I think there is a really important role here for intention:
What do I want to bring to bed?
What do I hope to come away with after this sexual experience?
What do I hope to offer my partner/s; what do I hope to receive from my partner/s?
Who do I want to be in this sexual encounter?
How can I make this sexual experience as pleasant as possible for myself and my partner/s?
We certainly can’t rid ourselves of all personal and cultural baggage around sex, but playing with the idea of sexual intentions – and perhaps injecting more of a sense of personal control in our sex lives – might just open up some new possibilities.
Dr. Alice Hucker